Military 7s rugby is slated to take a big step forward when as many as six military teams – potentially three from the US Air Force, two from the US Army, and an unofficial combination side of players from the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps dubbed the Military Elite Selects, will play at the Las Vegas Invitational February in Nevada.
In addition, the Air Force Academy is slated to enter the CRC Qualifier bracket.
Some of the players involved will be looking to be scouted by the USA 7s team, as the World Class Athlete Program becomes a real goal for any military rugby player who thinks he can make it to the Olympics.
Already players such as Eric Duechle and Marcus Satavu (both Air Force) have been in the USA mix, and previously-capped USA 7s player Nu’u Punimata has reportedly followed in his father’s footsteps into military service.
College players such as Will Holder (West Point), Ricky Feller (Navy), and Jack Bristol (Air Force Academy) might also be testing themselves in Vegas and looking at what role rugby might play in their military service.
Players accepted into the World Class Athlete Program would be stationed in an appropriate location (such as San Diego) where they can fulfill a military posting and also train for the Olympic team.
Former All Americans Andy Locke (US Army), Kyle Millerd (US Navy) and Elliot Joses (US Marine Corps) are also players to look out for in Vegas. Marcus Dupree, Ben Paul (Army) out of Pittsburgh, Jeff Brill (Navy) and Cal Robbins (Coast Guard) are also players to keep an eye on.
Rugby 7s legend Waisale Serevi is reportedly going to be a guest coach for the teams in Las Vegas.
Not all of the players named will necessarily be able to play, and one or two (Duechle, Dupree) might be with other teams. But the simple fact is that the military 7s presence is growing rapidly, and WCAP program could drastically expand USA Coach Alex Magleby’s pool of players who are training regularly at the OTC.